“Facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.” – Oxford Dictionary
When we work with an organization, we are constantly interacting with people—whether face-to-face or via technology. As skilled workers, we have access to tons of information and each one us becomes a repository of some key data points. Application of information leads to knowledge, which eventually results in profitability, which is the end goal for all corporate organizations.
This fine equation is disturbed when knowledge is not shared with each other. How many times have we heard someone say, “If I share everything that I know, why would they want me around anymore? I need to be indispensable, and to do that I will hold my cards close to my chest.”
In a culture that doesn’t promote knowledge sharing, the knowledge hoarder is considered supreme. You can probably remember a personal experience of your own where a project was slowed down because the “expert” (in other words, the only person who knew what was really going on) was on holiday.
What is the actual cost of knowledge hoarding? To put it quite simply, it can stifle innovation, which eventually leads to a dip in profitability.
Here are some techniques that will help you encourage knowledge sharing within your organization:
Start generating content
Most of the times, people are not comfortable being the first one to share something. To break the ice with others, be the first one to share something relevant. How do you work that out? Figure out the content that will get people to come towards your information database. Put together different categories of articles, something that people use and need every day. Invite them to share in a meaningful experience.
Find employees who are active knowledge sharers
Quality is key here! According to social media’s 90-9-1 theory, 90% of people consume knowledge, 9% of people interact when online, and then there is the 1% who are social and love sharing information with others. You have that 1% in your company too! Find them, engage them, and leverage their experience and expertise to share knowledge on behalf of your organization.
Create an atmosphere of trust
Trust is the foundation of all relationships. According to a study conducted by the IBM Institute for Knowledge-Based Organizations, there are two specific types of trust that are instrumental in the knowledge sharing process: benevolence-based trust and competence-based trust. When we think about trust, we are typically thinking of its benevolence-based form—in which an individual will not intentionally harm another when given the opportunity to do so. However, another type of trust that plays an important role in knowledge sharing is competence-based trust. Competence-based trust describes a relationship in which an individual believes that another person is knowledgeable about a given subject area. It is possible for effective knowledge sharing to occur as long as both types of trust exist between both parties – the knowledge sharer and the receiver.
Recognize the efforts of employees who willingly share information and knowledge
We are all bogged down by work and deadlines are often tight. To encourage knowledge sharing and to make it a sustainable effort, provide some form of benefits to your employees. And tailor your recognition to what will motivate each employee. For rewards and recognition to be effective, you need to know what drives them.
Empower employees with the right collaboration tools
Make information sharing easier and intuitive. There are several collaboration tools available that come with discussion boards. Opening communication up with your employees and discussing the matter at hand will bring in several perspectives and make the entire process much more interpersonal.
With the shifting landscape, now is the time to start capturing and communicating. Don’t forget to make it fun and engaging!
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